Pablo Blazquez, PhD

Assistant Professor of Otolaryngology

Blazquez Lab Website

Mailing Address:

Washington University School of Medicine
Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery
660 S. Euclid Ave.-Campus Box 8115
St. Louis, MO 63110

Research interests: Health problems associated with motor control and balance are the most common neurological disorders affecting the world population today. Our research is aimed to understanding motor control and balance in the normal and diseased brain, with the ultimate goal of paving the way towards finding cures and therapies for rehabilitation. Specifically, we investigate the role of the cerebellum and cerebellar plasticity in motor control, learning, and spatial navigation. Our model systems are the oculomotor (eye) and vestibular (balance) systems in the primate and murine model. We use a variety of experimental techniques, including: single unit recordings, pharmacology, histology and computational methods. We have recently added mouse neurogenetics to our repertoire of experimental tools to study the role of the cerebellar Nodulus and Uvula (NU) during spatial navigation in mice.

The main brain area of interest of our lab is the vestibulo-cerebellum, which is the phylogenetically oldest part of the cerebellar cortex. The elegant microcircuit of the cerebellar cortex (e.g. vestibulo-cerebellum) has been known for more than a century and has inspired computational models suggesting that this structure is capable of performing complex neuronal computations. However we have yet to single out a specific computation carried out by the cerebellar cortex in awake animals. We are beginning to fill this vacuum by describing in detail for the first time the response of granular layer interneurons in the ventral paraflocculus of awake macaques, and by describing the effect of application of receptor agonist and antagonists on the response of cerebellar cortex neurons (granular layer interneurons and Purkinje cells) in the ventral paraflocculus of awake animals. Moreover, our studies on vestibular signal processing by the posterior cerebellar vermis (a part of the vestibulo-cerebellum) suggest that the cerebellum uses semicircular canal and otolith information to generate predictions of our movement and orientation in space.

Education

  • B.S.: Biology, University of Seville, Seville, Spain, 1993
  • Ph.D Degree: Neuroscience, University of Seville, Seville, Spain 1998

Selected Publications

  1. Blazquez PM, Partsalis A, Gerrits NM, Highstein SM. “Input of anterior and posterior semicircular canal interneurons encoding head-velocity to the dorsal Y group of the vestibular nuclei”. J Neurophysiol. 2000 May;83(5):2891-904.

  2. Blazquez PM, Fujii N, Kojima J and A.M. Graybiel. “A network representation of response probability in the striatum”. Neuron. 2002 Mar 14;33(6):973-82.

  3. Blazquez PM, Hirata Y, Heiney S.A., Green A.M., Highstein S.M. ”Cerebellar signatures of vestibulo-ocular reflex motor learning” J Neurosci 2003;23(30):9742-51.

  4. Blazquez PM, Hirata Y, Highstein SM. “Chronic changes in inputs to dorsal Y neurons accompany VOR motor learning”. J Neurophysiol. 2006, 95(3):1812-25.

  5. Blazquez PM, Davis-Lopez de Carrizosa M, Heiney SA, and Highstein SM. “Neuronal substrates of motor learning in the velocity storage generated during optokinetic stimulation in the squirrel monkey” J Neurophysiol. 2007, 97(2): 1114-26.

  6. Yakusleva T, Shaikh AG, Green AM, Blazquez PM, Dickman JD, and Angelaki DE. “Purkinje cells in posterior vermis detect motion in an inertial reference frame”. Neuron, 2007, 54(6): 973-85.

  7. Yakusheva TA, Blazquez PM, Angelaki DE. “Frequency-selective coding of translation and tilt in macaque cerebellar nodulus and uvula”. J Neurosci. 2008 Oct1; 28 (40):9997-10009.

  8. Inagaki K, Heiney SA, Blazquez PM. Method for the construction and use of carbon fiber multibarrel electrodes for deep brain recordings in the alert animal. J Neurosci Methods. 2009 Apr 15;178(2):255-62.

  9. Yakusheva T,Blazquez PM, Angelaki DE. Relationship between complex and simple spike activity in macaque caudal vermis during three-dimensional vestibular stimulation. J Neurosci., 2010, 30(24):8111-26.

  10. Heiney SA, Highstein SM, Blazquez PM. Golgi cells operate as state-specific temporal filters at the input stage of the cerebellar cortex. J. Neurosci. 2010 Dec 15;30(50): 17004-14

  11. TA, Blazquez PM, Chen A, Angelaki DE. Spatiotemporal properties of optic flow and vestibular tuning in the cerebellar nodulus and uvula. J Neurosci. 2013 33(38):15145-60.

  12. Laurens J, Heiney SM, Kim G, Blazquez PM. Cerebellar cortex granular layer interneurons in the macaque monkey are functionally driven by mossy fiber pathways through net excitation or inhibition. PLoS One, 2013.

  13. Meng H, Blázquez PM, Dickman JD, Angelaki DE. Diversity of vestibular nuclei neurons targeted by cerebellar nodulus inhibition. J Physiol. 2014.

  14. Meng H, Laurens J, Blázquez PM, Angelaki DE. In vivo properties of cerebellar interneurons in the macaque caudal vestibular vermis. J Physiol. 2014. Nov 10.

  15. Blazquez PM, Yakusheva TA. Control of Purkinje cell responses by GABA-A Inhibition in the Macaque Vestibulo-Cerebellum. Cell reports. 2015 May 6.

Selected Invited Reviews

  1. Blazquez PM, Hirata Y, Highstein SM. “The vestibulo-ocular reflex as a model system for motor learning: what is the role of the cerebellum?” Cerebellum. 2004, 3(3):188-92.

  2. Angelaki DE, Yakusheva TA, Green AM, Dickman JD, Blazquez PM Computation of Egomotion in the Macaque Cerebellar Vermis. Cerebellum. 2009 Dec 11.

  3. Heine SA and Blazquez PM. Thinking Inside the box: The roles of inhibitory interneurons in cerebellar processing. Jap J. of Neuronal Netw. 2011

  4. Blazquez PM and Pastor AM. Cerebellar Control of Eye movements. In: Handbook of the Cerebellum and Cerebellar Disorders. Manto MU, Gruol DL, Schmahmann JD, Koibuchi N, Rossi F (Eds). Chapter 12. June 15, 2012

  5. Pablo M. Blazquez and Angel M. Pastor. Plasticity of Eye Movement Control. In: The New Visual Neurosciences. Edited by John S. Werner and Leo M. Chalupa. Chapter 67, pages 963-977. 2014